Namibia is facing a natural conundrum of maintaining and expanding its biodiversity as human-wildlife conflict continues, and compensations pile up on government doors.
From crocodile and hippo attacks in the eastern regions, lions for those closer to Etosha, elephants trembling and infrastructure damage, and others.
The country’s human-wildlife conflicts have now hastened the call for actions to be taken while the benefits from the country’s wildlife riches keep screaming loud.
The situation has boiled and resulted in the government and stakeholders organising a three-dayNational Conference on Human Wildlife Conflict Management, which ends today.
The conference was officially opened by the country’s Vice President Nangola Mbumba who has conceded the tension between wildlife and humans is becoming a serious concern.
Mbumba said the number of compensation requests coming from the general public for damages caused by wildlife to human lives and properties, as well as livestock and crop damages, are increasing
“This indicates that there is a serious need to reduce the growing tension around human-wildlife conflicts, as losses of human lives, livestock and crops, as well as damage to infrastructure which affect the livelihoods of our citizens, cannot continue to be tolerated,”he said.
The country has a National Policy on Human Wildlife Conflict Management that provides mechanisms to manage human-wildlife conflict and benefit from wildlife and other natural resources.
However, the Policy seems to be not comprehensive and prepared for what is happening. Thus, the stakeholders are now meeting to address the loopholes and innovate new measures.
Mbumba also has acknowledged that the tensions between wild animals and people will require innovative ways.
“Human-wildlife conflict, as many of you know, is complex and thus requires multidimensional solutions,” he stated.
He reminding the stakeholder that biodiversity is good and beneficial for our survival as well as for the sustainable conservation of our environment.
He said the government recognises that living with wildlife often carries a cost, the increased wildlife populations in the communal and freehold farming areas result in more frequent conflicts between people and wild animals.
At the same time, the country’s wildlife riches have been a source of livelihood for many, a source of foreign reserves all this through the tourism sector as people travel to the country to see wildlife and others.
The number of foreign arrivals averaged 11 431 per month during the first two months of 2023, compared to a monthly average of 5 223 in the first two months of 2022- as they came to visit the country’s beauty and wildlife endowment.
According to government statistics, conservancies are now benefiting about 245 000citizens in various regions of the country through employment creation, receiving cash income, initiating social projects and getting in-kind benefits.
This highlights the economic benefits of the country’s wildlife endowment.
The Vice Presidentcalled for economic benefits to be derived from the parks through tourism, saying parks tourism potentials “should be harnessed for the benefit of all our people.”